45th October Art Salon/Continental Breakfast, Belgrade
International exhibition for the first time
Belgrade, 10. September - 31. October 2004

Project description

The coming enlargement of the European Union determines the need to ameliorate the mutual cognition in many fields. Culture is one of the most important since it serves as a factor of differenciation, between regions otherwise tending to the unification in the field of industry, finance system, agriculture policy, etc.

The first CEI Forum held in Venice 9 -10 of June 2003 voted unanimously the recommendation concerning the contemporary art (copy included). It has been decided that the first project to be developed is a chain of events called CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST.

The purposes of the project

  • presentation of the cultural varieties in Europe
  • mutual recognition of the artists from different regions of Europe
  • evoke the genuine values from different European places to become the common European tradition

The stages of realization
  • building up the institutional network to develop the project internationally
  • elaborating the framework of events in each participating country
  • elaborating the mutual co-operation
  • presentation of the project in its different versions
  • publications and digital registrations
The content of the project
  • different international exhibition of contemporary art held in different European art centers
  • concerts of the music based on the local traditions (and local instruments)
  • performances
  • traditional cooking: different versions of Continental breakfast
  • possibly: simultaneous TV broadcast from different places

Anda Rottenberg
Continental breakfast

Coffee, cream, juice, croissant, butter and jam. Typical french breakfast called "continental" in opposition to the British one, consisted of tee (or even coffee), poridge, fried bacon and eggs on toasted bread. Both known all over the world became a part of a global culture as something what came from Europe and serves as an evidence of oneís cultivation.

Europe itself is still identified as an area where everything is in a French style, including, of course, breakfast. Who would say Europe when speaking about Bosnia or Lithuania, for example. Who knows that Bosnian city of Sarajevo was once the most important European place - the one where the First World War started, 1914; who knows that the city of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, is the geographical center of Europe? What is the notion of Europe from the point of view of the Europeans themselves? What does "continental breakfast" mean to the citizens of Kiev, Ljubljana, Porto or Reykjavik?

One does not need to put this question to many well known artists to have an answer. Many of them constantly touch the question of identity. How it is to be Irish European or to be Russian European, etc. When you look at the contemporary art from this point of view, you will be surprised how many eminent artists touch the problem of their cultural identity. The big success of Marina Abramovic at the Venice Biennale 1999, for example, not only depended on the huge amount of raw bones.

The artist was sitting on the stinking heap and cleaning the bones as if she were in the middle of the mass grave somewhere in the battle field of former Yugoslavia. She delivered the sound of mourn which mixed up with the heat of Italian summer (it could have been the Yugoslavian one) and the stench of rotting meat. Milica Tomic, another Serbian artist does not sing funeral melodies.

She looks at the viewer from the video screen, tears in her eyes, and repeating the sentence: "My name is Milica Tomic, I am a Serbian artist"... That's enough to understand the message. She feels gulty of what has happen in her country. Ex-Yougoslavian, Bosnian from the origins, Danica Dakic, makes the projecton on the empty sockle which, once upon the time, carried the sculpted torso of Ivo Andric, the Nobel Prize winner, who happened to write the novel :"Bridge on Drina".

The bridge does not exist anymore, it was pulled down during the Serbian-Bosnian conflict. The torso was pulled down after the bridge. The projection showed the writer's hand with the ink pen. The hand was trembling. The Nobel Prize does not protect monuments.
As a matter of fact, monuments suffer equally or even more than people. In the same city of Sarajevo another monument was destroyed during the same conflict. It was the monument of Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian revolutioner, who killed archduke Ferdinand in the summer 1914 and caused the World War. Bosnia belonged to the Austrian Imperium at the time. After that Bosnia belonged to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Now, it's en independent European country. Who cares about Sarajevo? Who cares about Vilnius?

Deimentas Narkievicius, the Lithuanian artist made an effort to mesure Europe and found its geographic middle point. It occurred to be the square of Vilnius. The artist took some pictures from the place. It looks like an average urban place somewhere. Might be Europe. Who knows. The majority of the Eurpoean citizens would not recognize it, I bet. There is nothing like a landmark in there. No Big Ben, no la Tour Eiffel, no gondolas, nothing, Just the pavement, some buildings, cars... The middle of Europe looks like the middle of nowhere.

Lithuania belongs to the Catholic imperium some 500 years. Itís not so long. Therefore, the Chistian belief goes together with the pre-babtist's habits. Egle Rakauskaite has made her own interpretation of the Holy Communion as a ceremony of swollowing the Christ's Body. She produced the crucifixes made of chocolate. The Jesus's body became really sweet.
The Polish artist, Joanna Rajkowska offers another consumer good. She produced a set of tinned body liquids, six types - each one for another purpose: sex, strenghth, brain capacity, etc. She sells it from the fridge - like Coke or Fanta. One may sell everything money can buy - specially in the highely industrial society.

The consumerism is a very strong factor of everyday life in Europe. You always want to buy more and better for less. The product must be attractive to absorb your attention. Nobody likes to have the same sausage everyday. Wim Delvoye found such a big variety of sausages in Belgium that he was able to make the fantastic ornaments out of it. It does not look like sausage anymore. It rather reminds the elaborated ebonist piece of art. You may put it next to some other pieces by this artist: the mini-lorry or the concreet mill executed in carved, expensive, oriental wood.

On the other hand, there are some very luxury products which may never sand next to the ordinary ones. Shoes, for examples. The very pair of shoes must be shown separately from any other. Andreas Gurski photo delivers the proper image of the proper shoes in the proper shelf. Looking to the overloaded stores on another Gurski's pictures how can we believe that there are millions of people who cannot afford to buy not only the selected type of shoes but sometimes any shoes at all. Even any sausage, the most simple one. Also in Europe, by the way.

You can see this kind of people on the photos of Boris Michailov. The homeless citizens of Moscow are ready to do anything you ask to get some tiny bribe.
Remember the early installations made by Ilya Kabakov? Labyrinths of ugly corridors and strange letters. These were the letters of complaints and accusations written to local authorities by some neighbours to punish some others. The cases concerned utilization of common territories: kitchens, toilets, basements, etc. You know, the communists shouldn't have needed the privacy in those places. Did they think about the type of breakfasts and about the style of service?

The intimacy is a very relative question. The hotels' guests like to have it, for example. But there are TV cameras in the rooms for the security purposes. You can see how boring is the hotels' life looking to the series of video made by Ann Sofi Siden. She, herself, does not feel uncomfortable when photographed while urinating. The intimacy space might mean something else for her. As well as for the model of the Michelangelo Pistoletto's mirror composition. Like in the Louis Bunuel's movie "Cette obscure objet du desir", where the process of eating is considered so intimate that the characters do it in the total isolation. On the contrary, the process of defacation and urination gives the opportunity for the nice conversation of the wealthy people.

There are, however, the non-fictional situations when nutrition is a basic problem, therefore serve as an instrument of oppression. The evidences from the concentration camps, the aircraft accidents and the tribal wars mention the cases of cannibalism as a factor of survival. The visual art is still silent about this question although Miroslaw Balka in one of his early installations placed the old dixie just over the floor, on the shitting level - as he explained. The installation referred to the concentration camp. The exhibition was shown in Berlin just after The Wall.

The last war in Europe is already the history; we live in the peace for over half a century. Many movies have been produced ever since. For the majority of European citizens the Nazis are handsome men in attractive uniforms. They borrow the faces of the best actors from the whole world. The collective memory of the war is replaced by the collective memory of mass media. The media image of the war is mostly attractive, specially regarding the negative heroes.

The Polish artist Piotr Uklanski has shown the collection of the Nazis images produced by movies. The Polsh actor, Daniel Olbrychski arrived to the exhibition with the sword and destroyed his photos as a Nazi officer. The Minister of Culture closed the exhibition in Warsaw. He expected art to be a pure decoration.

Shall we talk about the continental breakfast instead?